Suzhou is abundant with ancient stone bridges, pagodas, meticulous gardens, and canals. Suzhou is often referred to as the “Venice of the East.” The Classical Gardens in Suzhou is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I visited Suzhou during mid-March 2015, which is early spring and the gardens and trees were still mostly barren, except for the early rising daffodils. Suzhou has two major focal points for visitors, the 1,000 year old Yunyansi Pagoda located atop Tiger Hill and Lake Ji Jiang located in the center of the city.
Suzhou is a major city in eastern China, about a 1.5 hour subway and high speed train ride from Shanghai. For China, it is a very small city, with a population of only 5 million people, which is the same as the population of Washington, DC. It is interesting to note that China has over 150 cities with a population of 1 million or more people. Compare this to the United States — the U.S. has only 9 cities with a population of 1 million or more people. Yes, you just read that correctly — 150 versus 9!
The city was founded in 557 BC and thus has 2,500 years of history! Suzhou is now a major focal point of trade and commerce and has a large expat population working in the manufacturing sector.
Suzhou has become one of the fastest growing cities in the world, with an annual growth rate of 14 percent for the past 35 years!! Incomes are very high for China, high making it comparable to cities in the developed world. It is one of the most highly developed and prosperous cities in the world.
Below is a gallery that provides a good visual cross-section of Suzhou. Click on any image in the gallery to trigger a “lightbox” presentation of the photos — doing so really brings the photos to life.